[EM] Public elections are the ones that matter.
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
abd at lomaxdesign.com
Thu Nov 17 09:16:12 PST 2005
At 05:38 PM 11/15/2005, Paul Kislanko wrote:
>I can categorically state that no one in my small town would vote for any
>method that did include secret ballots.
Hmmm... How do you know this? Have you polled all of your town members?
Let me assume that the reason you would assert this is that there are
people in the town who would use open voting to retaliate for
"incorrect" votes. These people would, presumably, vote for open voting.
There is one other possibility. Nobody in the town would wish to
retaliate, but someone outside the town would. If *everyone* in the
town was afraid of this outside force, then perhaps Mr. Kislanko
would be correct. However, if my memory serves me, which it often
does not, Mr. Kislanko gave as an example an incident in which he
allegedly was removed from voter rolls because he voted in the
"wrong" primary. Voter rolls are normally maintained by the town
clerk or equivalent officer, if I'm correct. So this was an inside
force, not an outside one, it is reasonable to infer.
The problem with "categorical" statements is that they must be
absolutely true to be true at all....
I wonder what Mr. Kislanko did when he was allegedly wrongfully
removed from the voter rolls.... It could be grounds for a lawsuit, you know.
If there is a town like what Mr. Kislanko describes (and it would not
surprise me), the situation is perpetuated by the fear of
townspeople. Being removed from voter rolls strikes me as a
singularly wimpy retaliation, one more likely to backfire if town
voters have some backbone. People talk to each other in small towns.
Now, if Mr. Kislanko is, perhaps, the only Green voter in the small
town, to pick an example of a minority party that might be unpopular
in some places, he might be a bit stuck. But I'd bet that there would
be other voters in that town who would be offended at such
retailiation, offended enough to do something about it.
And if not, I, personally, would move. There is little worse than
living in a hostile small town, where you cannot reveal how you think
and what you think to your peers.
In our town, about one third of the voters vote Republican. From what
people say at town meeting, one might think that Republicans would be
only a handful. For example, a warrant to ask our congressional
delegation to act to remove reserve military from Iraq passed with
perhaps two dissenting votes. But I *highly* doubt that these people
don't speak up because of fear of retaliation, and, in fact, I
suspect that the town officers are more aligned in the Republican
direction. (But party affiliations are not disclosed in town
elections. One of those dissenters was a member of the Board of
Selectmen; but one cannot infer from that the political affiliation
of that man, and, in spite of a number of personal conversations with
him, I would not hazard a guess. His objections were about the Geneva
convention and the requirement that an occupying power take and hold
responsibility for maintaining order and public safety, until that
responsibility is taken over by another effective force.)
>Consider anonymoty an axiom for any method to be considered for US voters.
Hogwash. As I mentioned, there is plenty of non-anonymous voting in
the U.S. The most striking example is, of course, Town Meeting, and I
can say that those who know Town Meeting generally love it, and leave
it with regret only when the meetings become untenable due to town
size. I have a solution to that problem, of course, delegable proxy,
which can solve the problem *without* changes in law.
But if delegable proxy is implemented directly in public elections, I
think that a base level of assignment that is secret ballot would be
advisable under current conditions. Amherst, Mass., has what they
call a "representative town meeting," created by special charter from
the state, I think it was about sixty years ago. It's a contradiction
in terms, it is really not town meeting, but merely a very large
elected assembly, elected by secret ballot. It's not delegable proxy,
were it delegable proxy I think there would not be the very
substantial movement in Amherst to replace their "Town Meeting" with
a mayor/council government; the two most recent elections featured
initiatives to do so which failed, both times, by only a few votes.
It is ironic, I think, that the supporters of Town Meeting don't
realize that a method of government which is only supported by a thin
majority of voters is not a very satisfactory one!
Essentially, what Mr. Kislanko is saying is that people in the U.S.
would be afraid to openly designate their representatives. Quite
obviously, a large number are not, because they do openly declare
their opinions and assert, presumably accurately, how they vote. (And
polls *do* come close to anticipating actual votes. Polls involve
disclosing to strangers one's opinions and positions and actions, as
with exit polls. Polls may *promise* anonymity, but there is no
enforcement mechanism to guarantee this.)
So who would oppose open designation of representatives? Who would
oppose a system which not only allowed people to *choose* their
representatives (which can be accomplished with delegable proxy
secret ballot), but which would also allow representatives to know
exactly whom they represent (which is presently impossible, though
much can be inferred); this latter possibility could radically
transform how we think of our connection with government.
Who would oppose it? Two factions: those who benefit from ignorance
and secrecy, and those who fear retaliation. Personally, I rather not
align myself with either of these, though I can sympathize with the
latter and this is why I *would* support secret-ballot delegable
proxy, especially if tradition and practice encouraged the selection
of such proxies on a small scale, so that there is a relatively large
and highly representative number of open voters, who are themselves
broadly open to communication from those who secretly designated them
(without insisting on knowing that this is what they actually did. It
doesn't matter, really, if proxies vote their conscience, which is
what I'd like to encourage, rather than voting what they supposedly
think will gain them more votes. When proxies are collected on a
small scale, there simply isn't enough profit in pandering to gain
votes. That's the point.)
>That there may be no theoretical argument for it is irrelevant. If it is not
>a part of the method, nobody in my precinct will vote.
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: election-methods-bounces at electorama.com
> > [mailto:election-methods-bounces at electorama.com] On Behalf Of
> > Dave Ketchum
> > Sent: Tuesday, November 15, 2005 4:30 PM
> > To: Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
> > Cc: election-methods at electorama.com
> > Subject: Re: [EM] Public elections are the ones that matter.
> > On Tue, 15 Nov 2005 11:15:53 -0500 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
> > > At 11:31 PM 11/13/2005, Dave Ketchum wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > >>One important detail is NEED for voter secrecy in public
> > elections -
> > >>and little if any need for such for corporations
> > >>
> > >
> > > The "need" for secrecy in public elections is, in my view, not
> > > established. In a small town, for example, there may be far less at
> > > stake than in a corporate election, at least in terms of assets.
> > > Coercion and extortion are already illegal, in both cases. It seems
> > > that this restriction is sufficient in the case of corporate
> > > elections, why would it not be in public elections?
> > Have you lived, always, where needed secrecy was maintained?
> > Have you avoided serious thought about the secrecy problem?
> > I remember, many years ago, being a member of the Grange, a farmers'
> > organization:
> > Most voting was open.
> > Approval/rejection of proposed new members was SECRET - I think
> > three NOs was enough - and those voting NO could care MUCH
> > about secrecy.
> > In public elections, you have to do them all alike - while it
> > only happens
> > occasionally that secrecy matters (actually, there can be classes of
> > voting with different rules):
> > Near a tie, so each solicited vote counts.
> > Somebody cares MUCH.
> > Coercion and extortion are interesting labels - when they
> > happen those
> > doing do not volunteer to admit it - but may be prepared to punish
> > complainers.
> > Back to corporations - ONLY those who choose to, get involved in such.
> > >
> > > However, it would be simple enough to have, at least, a periodic
> > > secret-ballot confirmation of what might routinely be done publicly.
> > >
> > > Besides, what I'm recommending, starting with small towns, is an
> > > independent FA/DP (Free Association with Delegable Proxy)
> > > organization tasked with improving communication among citizens and
> > > others interested in the town, and between the town and its
> > citizens
> > > and voters. This organization, by its nature, would be
> > public in its
> > > proxy structure. It would, I presume, sometimes communicate
> > with its
> > > members who are registered voters in the town as to how to
> > vote. As a
> > > Free Association, the association itself would not make a
> > > recommendation; rather it would report the results of polls, any
> > > recommendations made would be the personal recommendation of the
> > > proxy to the one who gave the proxy; but because of the
> > structure, if
> > > the poll showed broad consensus, and if the poll had not been
> > > corrupted, the recommendations would probably be generally
> > considered
> > > trustworthy.
> > Unless I miss something, FA/DP is voluntary membership.
> > Also, there could
> > be classes of election topics that it is forbidden to vote on.
> > >
> > > If there *had* been corruption, the *actual* vote, where the town
> > > members vote secretly, according to current law, would show this.
> > >
> > > We have Town Meeting government; so many decisions are made
> > directly
> > > by the voters who show up at Town Meeting. If everyone
> > showed up, the
> > > whole thing would break down. There isn't a place in town
> > where every
> > > registered voter could participate.... and the meetings would be
> > > intractable. But more often it is hard to get a quorum,
> > which I think
> > > is about five percent of the voters.
> > >
> > > So Town Meeting voted to present a tax override to the voters to
> > > build a new public safety complex. The Board of Selectmen was in
> > > favor. And the voters rejected it. Why the gap? Well, it's
> > not about
> > > corruption, it is simply that there is no mechanism in place for
> > > voters to actively participate in the pre-election process,
> > except by
> > > personally going to meetings, which is impossible for many. Single
> > > mothers, as just one example. Town Meeting is direct democracy, but
> > > many are effectively disenfranchised. But they can and do vote in
> > > public elections, which takes only a few minutes in our small town.
> > >
> > > Even though, without changes in law, proxy voting would not be
> > > possible at Town Meeting, a proxy structure existing in the town,
> > > where people effectively designate proxies to represent them to the
> > > town, and where it was clear public record as to who
> > represented how
> > > many voters, would create a means for these people to participate;
> > > simply by deciding whom to trust they will have contributed
> > to the process.
> > >
> > > And, come the next tax override that has been discussed broadly
> > > through the DP structure, and I've received a phone call from my
> > > proxy suggesting that I vote for it, that override will pass. If it
> > > was not going to pass, it wouldn't have gotten that far....
> > >
> > > As it is, nobody called me to suggest I vote for the
> > override, and I
> > > wasn't personally at the meetings where it was discussed
> > and decided.
> > > Too busy writing on the internet, I suppose.... So I abstained. And
> > > many others either did the same, or voted against it, as
> > many will do
> > > on tax issues if they don't know better.
> > >
> > > I've seen quite a few examples where the town would have benefited
> > > from better communication back and forth with the entire citizenry.
> > > It already happens, to some degree, hearings are held, etc. But,
> > > quite simply, it could be better.
> > >
> > >
> > >>Proxies are important for corporations. Delegable proxies
> > are worth
> > >>thought for public elections - but need CAREFUL THOUGHT to avoid
> > >>making more trouble than they are worth.
> > >>
> > >
> > > Indeed. I'm not proposing the use of delegable proxy, per se, in
> > > public elections, until there is more experience with it in other
> > > applications. Asset Voting, however, would be just fine, I think;
> > > used for proportional representation, it would create a
> > peer assembly
> > > where every representative has one vote, which is what we are
> > > accustomed to. Asset Voting is quite close to delegable proxy; the
> > > form I favor I call FAAV, Fractional Approval Asset Voting,
> > where one
> > > votes for one or more candidates, as in Approval, except that the
> > > votes are divided among the recipients in the form 1/N, where N is
> > > the number of "approved" candidates.
> > >
> > > Because of the revoting process, where candidates may reassign the
> > > votes they received to create winners who did not win ab initio, no
> > > votes are wasted (except by neglect or intransigency on the part of
> > > candidates). Dividing the votes in ordinary approval voting
> > would be
> > > unjust, but it works in asset.
> > >
> > >
> > >>We can choose whether to be active in the corporate world.
> > >>
> > >
> > > Yes. This is one reason why corporations mostly do function
> > as share
> > > democracies. If they didn't, many investors would, quite
> > rightfully,
> > > not trust them and would move their investments elsewhere.
> > >
> > >
> > >>We have NO CHOICE as to whether we live in the public world and
> > >>under its rules.
> > >>
> > >
> > > It's not that black and white. We can choose, to some degree, where
> > > to live, and thus what government has jurisdiction for us.
> > But, yes,
> > > this is the basic difference between a voluntary association and a
> > > government. Governments assert authority over us whether or
> > not we consent.
> > Of course, if we attend to the details properly, we assert
> > control over
> > government.
> > >
> > > Whether or not that is necessary is debatable. The position that
> > > authority without consent is illegitimate is essentially
> > libertarian.
> > > I personally abstain from that debate. The fact is that we have
> > > government without consent, to a large degree in some ways, and in
> > > other ways, we do generally consent. I'd rather not attempt to
> > > drastically change the government itself, the rule of law,
> > the other
> > > structures that are currently functioning, for better or worse,
> > > because I see a way around it. The existing structures are
> > > manipulable by special interests. Many consider this a problem! --
> > > but I see it as a solution. When there are opposing special
> > > interests, the bigger one tends to win, doesn't it? And what is the
> > > largest special interest group?
> > >
> > > The people.
> > >
> > > The problem is not that the system is manipulable by special
> > > interests, the problem is that the most important "special"
> > interest
> > > is not organized, whereas smaller ones are. We tend to think of the
> > > government itself as the organization of the people, but that isn't
> > > quite correct. The government is an instrument of power, which is
> > > wielded according to the interests of those who control it. The
> > > people only indirectly control the government, and not terribly
> > > effectively. What is needed is an organization or
> > organizations which
> > > organize the power of the people *voluntarily*, for the purpose of
> > > managing government. The actual exercise of the management power
> > > would remain with the people individually, through their power to
> > > vote as well as their power to contribute to causes. Moveon.org has
> > > half of this right. What Moveon.org is missing is
> > democratic process
> > > within its own structure.
> > >
> > > It also is organized around a particular political bias. (That I
> > > happen to personally agree with much of that bias is not
> > relevant, it
> > > is still bias.) But if it created an open structure that just
> > > happened to start with progressives as members, it would be seeding
> > > the creation of something much broader than what it
> > currently is. It
> > > could essentially be creating the government of the government.
> > >
> > > Without removing any of the existing safeguards.
> > --
> > davek at clarityconnect.com
> > people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
> > Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708
> > 607-687-5026
> > Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
> > If you want peace, work for justice.
> > ----
> > election-methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em
> > for list info
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